Pocking: South Louisiana’s tradition
The seemingly unbeatable Lucy Matthews, right, pocks with her great-granddaughter Karsen Yeager. Family and friends say Matthews has pocking down to an art.
Holidays typically bring out all sorts of family traditions.
At Christmas, it’s a matter of who put the angel atop the tree or at Hanukkah, who lights the candles each night. Good Friday, at least in south Louisiana, is usually observed with a traditional crawfish boil.
But for Easter there are traditions galore, one of which is special to south Louisiana, as well as some parts of central Louisiana, that those elsewhere have never heard of before.
It’s called pocking and it’s origins, like many things in Louisiana, can be traced back across the Atlantic Ocean, specifically to England in this case. In lore, the winner eats the eggs of the loser in each round, though for many families that tradition has changed so that all members can eat the pocked eggs after the competition.
The rule of the game is simple. One holds a hard-boiled egg, typically dyed, and taps the egg of another participant with one’s own egg intending to break the other’s, without breaking one’s own.
The name pocking has two origins of its own. The “poc” sound the eggs make when one cracks the other and the French word for Easter, “Pâques.”
Locally, it’s more about the family competitions that occur every Easter morning. Case in point, Lucy Matthews, who, according to those who know her, has perfected the pocking process to an art. So much so that she appears to be unbeatable.
“She has a special way of holding the eggs,” said Heather Smith. “We have tried different eggs and even resorted to clear coating the eggs with fingernail polish all to no avail.
“She can’t be beat.”
Patrick Frey remembers his grandmother giving the family goose eggs to use.
“I believe they were a little bit larger than the average egg,” he said. “Safe to say that it was hard to lose with them.”
Goose eggs, apparently, have been quite popular ploys in the area.
“My grandfather would boil me a goose egg,” said J.C. Webb. “They were harder than chicken eggs. I would win every time!”
In fact, in some cities there are organized contests, like in Marksville. The city sponsors the “Easter Egg Knocking Contest” on Easter Sunday morning on the Courthouse Square. The contest has received attention at the state, national and even international level. There are two categories, chicken egg and guinea egg, and two age groups, toddlers (ages 1 to 7) and adults (ages 8 and up). The adult level has cash prizes for first, second, third and fourth places, while the toddlers are given awards win or lose.